Repugnance as Performance Error: The Role of Disgust in Bioethical Intuitions

In Steve Clarke, Julian Savulescu, C. A. J. Coady, Alberto Giubilini & Sagar Sanyal (eds.), The Ethics of Human Enhancement: Understanding the Debate. Oxford University Press. pp. 43-57 (2016)

Authors
Joshua May
University of Alabama, Birmingham
Abstract
An influential argument in bioethics involves appeal to disgust, calling on us to take it seriously as a moral guide (e.g. Kass, Miller, Kahan). Some argue, for example, that genetic enhancement, especially via human reproductive cloning, is repellant or grotesque. While objectors have argued that repugnance is morally irrelevant (e.g. Nussbaum, Kelly), I argue that the problem is more fundamental: it is psychologically irrelevant. Examining recent empirical data suggests that disgust’s influence on moral judgment may be like fatigue: an exogenous influence, yielding a “performance error” that does not reflect our understanding of moral matters. This conclusion also challenges appeals to repugnance on other topics (such as homosexuality) and generally downplays the importance of disgust in moral discourse.
Keywords disgust  repugnance  moral intuition  emotions  cloning
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Making Things Happen.James Woodward - 2005 - Philosophical Review 114 (4):545-547.
.Jonathan Haidt - 2009 - Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Regard for Reason in the Moral Mind.Joshua May - 2018 - Oxford University Press.
Emotional Reactions to Human Reproductive Cloning.Joshua May - 2016 - Journal of Medical Ethics 42 (1):26-30.
The Limits of Appealing to Disgust.Joshua May - 2018 - In Nina Strohminger & Victor Kumar (eds.), The Moral Psychology of Disgust. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 151-170.

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